“And God said, let us make man in our image… according to Our likeness, and let them rule…and God made man in His own image, in the image of God He created them; male and female He created them.” Genesis 1:26-27
What does it mean to be created in the image of God? I’ve often wondered that. It’s a fantastic thought, one that I often take for granted. In other words, I don’t think about it.
My children, in one way or another, are created in the image of their parents. Our DNA resides in every cell. Each has the basics—a head, shoulders, knees, and toes. Their hearts beat, their minds think, and their mouths taste and speak—like ours. Innate tendencies and personality traits are also there. My sons, like their father, gently rock their heads back and forth when they have indigestion, gently working up the “bubble” in their belly. My daughter is musical and artistic, like me, but she resembles her father’s side of the family. Similarly, there is something of God’s DNA in each of us—even if we aren’t born again. We are, after all, created in the image of God.
In these verses in Genesis, we see that man was made to rule over the beasts of the earth, so man was given a measure of power over the created universe. In Genesis we witness Adam and Eve walking in the Garden with God and perceive that man was designed for fellowship with God. We watch Adam’s creativity in naming beasts and his joy over God, his wife, and his work and conclude that those things must reflect God’s image in some way. But with the fall, harmony with God and His world became dissonant—like the screech of fingernails on a blackboard. I have heard the expression “shattered image” to describe the current state of humanity. Pieces are there, but the likeness is no longer whole. Some of the image is missing altogether. We no longer see clearly, hear distinctly, or think rightly.
I’ve tried to look at myself in a broken mirror before; it’s like an abstract painting. Everything is displaced. I might be able to comprehend myself in one piece or another—but it’s odd. The eye is separated dramatically from the nose, and the hair looks pieced together—angled this way and that.
Still, I am, even in my fallen condition, a work of wonder: created with a spirit that has the capacity to commune with God and is created with the knowledge of good (and now also evil). Like God, I have imagination and creativity, volition and emotion. I have within this God-made soul the power to forgive and to love. Unlike common animals, I have the power for deep reasoning and logic. I have sentience and an awareness of others’ worth and value.
Man is a remarkable creature. Composers, writers, and artists create—like their creator—and their works explode into our world—often bringing deep insight. I’ve cried with thanksgiving as a stringed quartet gave an exquisite performance. When I stand before an Old Master’s painting or one of the dappled works of the Impressionists, I appreciate the skill; I paint, too. They wield their brushes and paints in ways I can’t. I’m moved by the proficiency required to paint the details in lace gloves or to create a boat or ocean out of daubs of multi-colored paint. Skills and creativity like that cause me me worship the God who created the artist.
In other fields, men and women take possession of, or conquer, parts of previously unknown “universes.” For instance: computer technology (Steve Jobs and Bill Gates), physics (Marie and Pierre Curie), or aeronautics (Wernher von Braun). I think of Mother Teresa and her compassion and service to the poorest of the poor. The DNA of Christ incarnated into our world through her gentle acts of mercy. Then there are men like Martin Luther King who had a dream for what man could be, and he called us to see more clearly the value of all humanity.
Man is the apex of creation: Psalm 8:3-6 says,
“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, The moon and the stars, which You have ordained What is man that You take thought of him, And the son of man that You care for him? You have made him a little lower than God, And You crown him with glory and majesty! You make him to rule over the works of Your hands; you have put all things under his feet.” (NASB)
We are made a little lower than God. Still, most of us don’t comprehend our value or worth.
I don’t know about you, but I have gotten angry (sometimes livid) over how God made me. “Couldn’t you have made me a little more… or a little less…?” I complain to my Maker. Teaching me to love myself rightly has been a lengthy proposition for God and a difficult one for me to learn. I haven’t mastered it yet.
One day several years ago, I was meditating on how God created me—my gifts, my callings, and my limitations. I loathed parts of me. I heard God speak gently to me. (Not audibly—but to my heart.)
“Stand in front of your mirror. Look at yourself. You often worship Me when you stand before My creation.” (I sensed God’s pleasure over that and recalled a sunset at Rocky Mountain National Park. The evergreens reflected orange.The sky and mountains were ablaze with color, and the air was cool and clear. I began to clap and applaud Him for the glory of that moment.) “You joyfully lift your hands and give thanks for mountains, oceans, and sunsets. You are also my creation and are far superior to all of these. You are created in MY image. I want you to lift your hands right now and worship Me for who you are and how I’ve made you. I want you to be amazed and stand in awe of My creation.”
I was taken by surprise. I began to cry with wonder. But I did what He said. I raised my hands in worship as I looked in the mirror. I didn’t raise them to myself—but to my God for making the incredible person who stood before me—a wonky little, slightly over-weight, gray-haired woman with quirky, but loving ways, bad eyesight, but clear vision, and emotional scars that are slowly being healed by the love of my Pa Pa and His Son. I am His creation, and He is worthy of praise for making me—for making you. To do less than worship would be an offense to the Almighty.
I am more than a mountain—I’m an eternal soul. I’m made in His image. For His glory. I am a deeply loved wonder in the world.
So are you.